There are a number of health risks that smoking poses to individuals. Most of these are highlighted with advertising or anti-smoking campaigns, usually focusing on lung damage and developments of cancers throughout the body. However, there is a large amount of information that is not commonly known in terms of the positive effects quitting smoking has on the body after certain amounts of time. These tend to be more descriptive and highlight the benefits of quitting smoking, for both the short and long term.
20 minutes after you quit smoking, blood pressure levels drop back down to normal as well as your heart rate. High blood pressure is what damages arterial walls and puts extra strain on the heart. A faster heart rate may also damage heart tissue in the long run as the muscle is being forced to pump blood around the body faster.
Oxygen levels in the blood return to normal and the amount of carbon monoxide in the blood stream is halved. The former will mean your cells are receiving oxygen better and you will probably notice less fatigue, while the latter decrease is straight forward positive as this is a toxic gas.
After two days of quitting smoking, your chances of experiencing a heart attack will have decreased significantly already. At this point all traces of nicotine will have left your system and you should notice your sense of taste and smell returning to normal too. This means food and smells will be more appealing, and their sensations will increase.
The bronchial tubes, located in the lungs, will relax and lung capacity will increase. Because the smoke inhaled is no longer irritating the bronchial tubes, they will continue to improve as you stay smoke free.
Circulation will improve and increase, continuing to do so for up to 10 weeks. Smoking significantly reduces circulation which is why many smokers experience increased sensitivity in their appendages against things like cold. The increase in circulation will also make it easier for you to keep up with physical activities and improve physical performance.
Any breathing difficulties are most likely to have disappeared. Coughing and wheezing are the most common breathing issues that were reported to go away after quitting smoking. Lung capacity will also continue to increase during this time period and you should notice that you are able to do more exercise, and have in general more energy.
In less than a year lung capacity, oxygen levels in the blood and circulation would have improved drastically. Sense of smell and taste will be back to normal, which means that you would be able to taste your food properly. Sport will be easier, sexual performance will increase thanks to the increase in circulation and generally you will experience less fatigue and tiredness.
Because of the drastic decrease in blood pressure and the improvements to circulation your risk of heart attack will have dropped by half after quitting smoking for a year.
Your risk of stroke will now be the same as that of a non-smoker.
Your risk of lung cancer, of which 95% of sufferers are smokers, will now be reduced to that of a non-smoker i.e. 5%. Finally after 15 years, your heart attack risk will also return to that of a non-smoker.
So there you have it, both the short term and long term effects of quitting smoking. There are dozens of other secondary improvements that will be unique to you, that will be discovered along the way, but in general the positive effects on the body are massive. It’s no surprise then that getting rid of cigarettes and the habit of smoking is something every doctor or medical professional recommends. And remember, there are prescription treatments like Champix and nicotine replacement therapies like chewing gum or patches that can assist you in this process.